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Sunday, January 14, 2007

 

Wodehousisms



Describing the aptness of Wodehouse's Golf Omnibus to the Paganican Lifestyle is a formidable challenge, sort of like a 3 iron shot over water to a tiny green . . . in a Joycean way, his golfing ouevre represents the compleat paradigm, if you see what I mean.




How he achieves this is specifically the writer's art, how he documents the tension between Celtic Savagerie and Roman Civilisation, how he illustrates so convincingly the whole array of emotions and situations that range from low burlesque to quotidian High Drama . . . in his life he experienced all these things and can represent them, all with the casual off-handedness of Freddy Couples.

But underneath, the building blocks of his triumph, the foundation of his Shakespearean profundity, are the fundaments of language:

  • Golf, like measles is a disease that should be contacted when one is young. If Contacted in maturer years, the results can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal.

  • I suppose their feelings were rather what those of a golf professional would be, if he had to submit to seeing people dancing on his putting greens in high heeled shoes.

  • Until now Sir George Capatone had addressed his ball rather in the manner of Lot's wife the instant after she was turned into a pillar of salt. He now started behaving rather like a Ouled Nail dancer in throes of Colic.

  • Agnes Flack, crossing the links like a mastodon striding across the primeval swamp.

  • He waggled like Hamlet.

The Shakespearean allusions are plentiful in Wodehouse, and so subtly expert they bring tears to my eyes when I unexpectedly recognize them in their plus-4s. I myself now commonly refer to certain errant shots as Othello Balls, "struck well, but not wisely".


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